Links 8/15/2021

We Finally Know Why Older Sunflowers Keep Facing East (And Why It’s a Good Thing) Science Alert (KW).

Eastern Hemlocks Face Extinction. A Tiny Fly Could Save Them Wired

It’s time for a rethink on financial inclusion – new principles show how World Economic Forum


Seven out of 10 people in this Maryland Zip code are unvaccinated. Local leaders are trying to change that. WaPo. “[Zip code 21853] which includes the sleepy small town of Princess Anne in rural Somerset County, the most impoverished region of Maryland, has the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in a community of its size in the state. Fewer than 3 out of 10 people in this majority-Black community have gotten at least one vaccine dose,… [T]he community has limited access to health care and many residents haven’t seen a doctor in years, sometimes decades, leading to mistrust of medical and science authorities.” Not a banjo to be heard….

Vaccine Refusers Risk Compassion Fatigue The Atlantic. “Bear! Bear!”

* * *

Germany Makes Rapid Virus Tests a Key to Everyday Freedoms NYT. Meanwhile, our Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention strategy is exactly where it was in January 2020 (with the exception of improvements in ventilation).

* * *

Biden calls Florida school superintendent to praise mask mandate despite state orders The Hill

“The rebellion is spreading”: After local Texas officials defy his ban on mask mandates, Gov. Greg Abbott begins to clamp down Texas Tribune

Gov. Kay Ivey issues ‘limited’ COVID-19 emergency order; ‘No statewide mandates, closures’

* * *

To protect from lab leaks, we need ‘banal’ safety rules, not anti-terrorism measures STAT

“We Have To Change the Rules”: What AIDS Activists Can Teach Us About the Covid Pandemic In These Times


China puts growth ahead of climate with surge in coal-powered steel mills FT

Why A Secretive Chinese Billionaire Bought 140,000 Acres Of Land In Texas Forbes

Explainer: A 48-year-old union gone in 11 days – how Hong Kong teachers lost a powerful voice Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong group behind huge democracy rallies disbands amid China’s clampdown France24


Myanmar: The woman who jumped to her death while fleeing police BBC. Commentary:

Myanmar: Failed State or failed nation? Frontier Myanmar. Could be both:

Karen Sanctuaries: Memory, Biodiversity and Political Sovereignty (podcast) New Books in Southeast Asian Studies. I like Marshall Poe’s “New Books Network” series of podcasts a lot.

Trash collectors unsung heroes during COVID restrictions Vietnam News. Remember “essential workers”? Good times.

Australia: New South Wales ‘in worst ever Covid situation’ BBC. Handy chart:


Taliban at door of Afghan capital after eastern city falls, US starts evacuating embassy Reuters

Afghan militia leaders Atta Noor, Dostum escape ‘conspiracy’ Reuters. Leaving behind:

Critics round on Joe Biden as US pulls out of Afghanistan FT

The Return of the Taliban The New Yorker


‘We cannot just walk away’: Keir Starmer turns the pressure up on Boris to support Afghanistan government as he warns crisis ‘undermines legacy of British soldiers’ and raises terror threat as Taliban militants move within just SEVEN miles of Kabul Daily Mail. Oh, Keith.

Why Is a British Carrier Strike Group Heading to the Indo-Pacific? War on the Rocks

French protests continue into fifth weekend following health pass enforcement The Hill

New Cold War

What Will Become of ISS if Russia Abandons Plans? Interesting Engineering

The Caribbean

Quake kills hundreds in Haiti, worsening Caribbean nation’s plight Reuters. And don’t donate to the Red Cross for Haitian relief.

Clerk assigned to Moïse investigation found dead, had planned to quit Haitian Times

Venezuela negotiating agenda in crosscurrent Argus Media. Talks open in Mexico City.

US Democrats Call for Venezuela Sanctions Relief and ‘Direct Dialogue’ with Maduro Venezuelanalysis

Biden Administration

Federal judge orders Biden administration to reinstate ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy USA Today (KW).

Police State Watch

The Most High-Profile Al Qaeda Plot Foiled After 9/11 Was an FBI Scam The Intercept. This is the one where the FBI actually got the “plotters” their boots and uniforms.

Hush-Hush Boom-Boom London Review of Books. Ian Fleming?!

Our Famously Free Press

The Co-Founder Of Snopes Wrote Dozens Of Plagiarized Articles For The Fact-Checking Site Buzzfeed

I’d like to see people who lie about #MedicareForAll off of Twitter….

… but I restrain myself, because I’m not a liberal Democrat.


Evidence presented to grand jury in Durham’s Russia probe Associated Press

Imperial Collapse Watch

Will the U.S. Pass a Point of No Return? James Fallows, The Atlantic. Not Fallows, a letter from a reader.

“Third Fleet HQ deploys to Hawaii for Navy’s unprecedented five fleet global combat exercises” – TTG Turcopelier

Guillotine Watch

New Zealand: The ideal spot to ride out the apocalypse? Deutsche Welle

Where Police Killings Often Meet With Silence: Rural America NYT

Class Warfare

Status Monkeys Not Boring. “Status As A Service.”

Escape from LA Yasha Levine

Small towns desperate for water in California New York Times

Sea Level Projection Tool NASA (Furzy Mouse). Interactive.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. fresno dan

    The Most High-Profile Al Qaeda Plot Foiled After 9/11 Was an FBI Scam The Intercept. This is the one where the FBI actually got the “plotters” their boots and uniforms.

    (from the article) THE BIGGEST Al Qaeda plot the FBI claimed to have foiled in the years following the 9/11 attacks involved no weapons, no plot, and no Al Qaeda. Instead, the vague, implausible threat by a group of construction workers in Florida to blow up U.S. buildings, including Chicago’s Sears Tower, was mostly the making of the FBI, whose undercover operatives sought out the men, promised them money, and coached them over months to implicate themselves in a conspiracy to commit violent acts they never actually intended or had the means to carry out.
    In one of the exchanges that sealed his fate, Batiste agreed to provide one of the informants with a list of items he supposedly needed to carry out an attack in Chicago — including, for some reason, knee-high boots. “I had to make up something up right then and there,” says Batiste, whom FBI surveillance video shows struggling to differentiate a pistol from a machine gun before his unrelenting handler. “I didn’t know any names of guns. I had never owned a gun.”
    The documentary, telling the story of a scam, seems to conclude that the victims are not just the seven men and their families but also the American people, whose government fabricated fear to justify its powers.

      1. Temporarily Sane

        and (T)ERROR, which details how the FBI pressured an ex con into spying on and ratting out people at his mosque.

        (T)ERROR is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. Through the perspective of “Shariff”, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned informant, viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them. Taut, stark and controversial, (T)ERROR illuminates the fragile relationships between individual and surveillance state in modern America, and asks who is watching the watchers.

      2. Jack Parsons

        I very much want to see this. Christopher Morris is one of the most vicious comedy minds of our time.

        This and his previous movie, “Four Lions”, are meditations on the Deep Terror State.

        Most of you know him as the first crazy owner of the “IT Crowd” company, who kills himself when irregularities in the pension plan are discovered.

    1. Dan

      In other words, Osama Bin Laden won the war on the west by getting us to waste trillions of dollars in a 20 year long losing war, enrage Muslims worldwide, sow terror among our own population, and to even get the FBI to work as the Al-Queda P.R. agency.

      Remember this when you are debating whether to pay cash under the table, or get a tax receipt to ‘play by the rules’ to fund this stupidity should it continue, and for sure, the interest due on its cost in dollars, let alone lives.

    2. RepubAnon

      Law enforcement has used this same not-quite-entrapment tactic in the past to make “drug kingpin” arrests. It boosts arrest and conviction “metrics.”

    1. John Beech

      What a terrible story. The people of LA are undergoing a terrible situation and here in FL, it’s getting to be the same by all accounts. To my shame, I voted for DeSantis. This due to thinking he knew FL and would do the best job. Well, it turns out he does know the state, he knows what about half the people want, e.g. we don’t want government telling us what to do, but at the same time, he’s proven himself to be a poor leader. Why? It’s because instead of talking up rights as the other side of responsibility, he only panders to half the population. Thing is, he’s supposed to be governor to 100% of the state, not just the half that elected him. Medium term, he’s losing support. I know because he’s lost mine. Long term? He’s toast as a national candidate. President? Sooner vote for my dog Maggie who is similarly self-centered and selfish.

      1. Soredemos

        Honest question: why on earth did you ever think you were going to get anything else? The GOP essentially openly tells you that ‘government is the problem’, and that if you vote for them they plan to simply not govern.

        1. Objective Ace

          Better to not govern then govern badly? See California and NYC

          I’m not saying one is better then the other. Just that theres valid criticism to both sides. How you weigh them is up to you

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If there are any states or places where government “governs well”, that should be a third thing-to-compare thrown into the comparison mix.

            If any of America’s states or parts-of-states turn out to have “governed well” on this coronavid deal, we may know it by lower sick tolls and case-numbers and death tolls.
            Too soon to tell, for now.

            But yes, anyone who voted for DeSantis is getting what he/she voted for. It will give them an opportunity to decide whether in the long run, this is really what they want for state governance?

      2. mn

        Blame your federal government, India had their escalating cases and when people had their first symptoms they were given azithromycin, ivermectin & vitamins. India’s delta wave dropped. Mexico did the same. America’s treatment plan buy a pulse ox from amazon stay at home till your numbers drop and you can’t breath, then come to the hospital. That is the problem, cause with adequate outpatient treatment they cannot use emergency use authorization for their vaccines.

    2. ambrit

      We lived just south of Bogalusa LA for ten years. I have been to what is now the Our Lady of the Angels hospital. It once was a part of the LSU state charity hospital system. It was “privatized” back in 2014. I know nothing of the finances of the Franciscans, who now manage the hospital, but I’d imagine that the State of Louisiana would have had more resources to ‘throw at’ any medical emergency, such as this latest round of the “Ballad of the Covid-19 Last Roundup.”
      The Bogalusa Charity Hospital was one of the main facilities fighting against the initial HIV/AIDS epidemic back in the ‘long ago.’ (Bogalusa once had one of the highest per-capita rates of HIV in America.) The small cities embedded in the rural matrix are generally the bell wethers for systemic shocks.
      This dysfunction is definitely to be laid at the door of Neoliberalism.
      Covid may not be showing America to be a fully failed State yet, but the trend is clear for all to see.
      Back under my rock.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Since the failure has been engineered on purpose since the Carter-Reagan period, maybe we should call it Engineered State Failure.

  2. fresno dan

    Will the U.S. Pass a Point of No Return? James Fallows, The Atlantic. Not Fallows, a letter from a reader.

    I have a difficult time, after RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA! and about 40 years of Trump NOT being prosecuted for anything to now believe that Trump is about to go to the hoosegow. If there is any danger, it is the self delusion of the dem side of the spectrum.
    But I would not be too sanguine. I see not a parallel with Rome, but with late 19th century Germany. A technologically advanced country, liberal, great art, prosperous, with a social safety net. Within a few decades it all collapsed in unimaginable depravity. Can’t happen here?

    1. The Historian

      “If there is any danger, it is the self delusion of the dem side of the spectrum”

      I think Schnurer makes that point when he says:
      “The optimates were tone deaf to the needs of those struggling to make a living, while the insurrectionists played to the working class in order to destroy what passed for democracy and impose their personal rule. Rich, out-of-touch, socially liberal democrats versus rich, demagogic authoritarians masquerading as the party of the working class—not far off from today. The difference is that progressives don’t recognize that they’re the new optimates.” (Not sure what Shnurer means when he says ‘progressives’ though.)

      No history is going to describe exactly what is happening to us but we can learn from the failures of republics, including the Roman Republic, the Florentine Republic, the French Republic, the German Republic, etc. Seems to me they all failed in much the same way – when one group of people got power in the Republic and insulated themselves from the reality of what was actually happening to their populace. Kind of why Clinton and Pelosi, among others, sounds so tone deaf all the time.

      1. hunkerdown

        As a historian, you should know well the scientific management movement of the time around WWI, which took progressive as its watchword and continues to use it as such today, even in the face of people who seem to prefer that word refer to some grand narrative that centers themselves as righteous actors for “allowing” history to proceed in the predestined form.

        1. The Historian

          As an amateur historian, I know the word ‘progressive’ has been around since at least the 14th century and I know that it’s meaning has been corrupted to include people like Biden and Pelosi. Progressive means ‘moving forward’ – it doesn’t mean upholding the status quo, which is why I questioned Schnurer’s use of the term to describe modern day optimates.

      2. jsn

        Agreed! And Shnurer if deeply embedded in the ideological underpinnings of neoliberalism, mentioning Bobbitt in his internal IT link to legitimize his conception of the “market state” into which he projects confidentiality we are evolving.

        As corrupt, depraved and exploitative as Republican Rome at its Rubicon moment, we also face climate change as a direct consequence of the neoliberal market forces he is confident will define our future.

        The force in Augustine’s Rome that was central to that next half millenniums prosperity, such as it was for those in on
        it, was a nascent internal, localist communist movement history remembers as Christianity, which, as Michael Hudson documents, within Augustus’ reign would posit a very current critique of oligarchical rule by finance where property takes priority over people. Gibbon is blunt in support of Hudson’s argument.

        1. The Historian

          Wasn’t Christianity created as an alternate power structure to Roman rule? Jesus was certainly rebelling against the Romans and the priests that went along with the Romans. Methinks the Roman Empire created their own internal enemy with Christianity. Maybe that is something that our elites ought to think about.

          1. Soredemos

            An alternate power structure for Hebrews in the Levant, sure. Then he was executed as an enemy of the state, and that would have been the end of it if Saul and his followers hadn’t come along with weird mystical claims about a failed Jewish heir to the Davidic throne being some sort of metaphysical savior for all mankind, and reshaping the narrative to be more appealing to Romans in particular (render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s).

            In the end the Roman state adopted Christianity. Doesn’t seem like much of an internal enemy in the end to me.

            1. Geo

              For any movie lovers out there, the film Agora explores the rise of Christianity in Rome in a poetic and powerful way.

              This trailer does it a disservice (makes it look like an action movie focused on mostly IdPol issues) but I highly recommend the movie. One of my all time favorites. :)


            2. The Historian

              Constantine co-opted Christianity because he saw it was becoming a power source that could threaten him. Sort of like how Big Business co-opted union leadership.

          2. Samuel Conner

            > “Jesus was certainly rebelling against the Romans and the priests that went along with the Romans.”

            I question this. Jesus’ prophetic ministry can be understood as, in significant measure, a warning of the bad things that would happen if his hearers took up arms against Rome. “Gehenna” is a real place outside the walls of Jerusalem, where dead bodies pile up, cast over the walls, when the besieged city runs out of room for burial.

            NT Wright discusses this at some length in his “Jesus and the Victory of God”.

            The Jewish christian movement definitely did not have a militant anti-Rome posture. The Jewish churches did not participate in the AD66-73 war, and were badly treated during the AD132-5 war by their militant countrymen, who regarded their pacifism to be traitorous.

            1. The Historian

              I suggest you read Bart Erhman or many of the other historians who have done considerable work on Jesus and nascent Christianity. I think they would disagree with your assessment.

              Jewish people most definitely did participate in the Jewish Roman War in 66-73 AD and in the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 132-135 AD. Both were Jewish nationalistic revolts against the Romans

              The Romans weren’t against Christianity per se, after all, he was just one more God that they could add to their pantheon. What did bother the Romans was that Christians would not honor their gods too, as all good Romans were expected to do. Nero was probably the first emperor to persecute the Christians but there were many others who did so also.

          3. Lynne

            Jesus was certainly rebelling against the Romans and the priests that went along with the Romans.

            Ummmm…….. you have that backward. Mark 12:17; Mathew 22:15-22; etc.

            1. The Historian

              You are cherry-picking the Bible. It cannot be read that way, it must be considered in its entirety and it must be read in context with what was happening at the time in that area.

              For instance, Romans did not use crucifixion as a general punishment – it was reserved for traitors and rebels.

              For instance, the use of the term “Son of God”. That term was at the time reserved for the emperors who were considered the Son of God. Jesus was effectively calling himself a King, not something the Romans appreciated.

              There is more there that convinces me that Jesus was a rebel who wanted to bring an end to Roman AND Pharisee rule but not enough time or space here to do that.

              1. Lynne

                So what you are saying is that we have to agree to disagree. That’s fine, but you are making the mistake that the TDS sufferers make. You are attributing to the principal actions and statements and interpretations made by others.

    2. John Beech

      Why should Trump go to jail? What’s he done? Bring the case if you can make it. I voted for the idiot in chief, and don’t regret it because the alternatives were less palatable, but the great orange one hasn’t committed a proveable crime. Is he a jerk of the first water? That he is in my estimation. Doesn’t change the facts on the ground, they don’t have evidence of wrongdoing. This, probably because if there’s on thing he is ‘not’, is stupid. Respectfully, fd, you know as well as I do there are fall guys for protecting the big dogs. Always have been, always will be.

      1. AE90

        At this point, “wrongdoing” at that level is such a subjective term as to be laughable. Did he shoot someone on 5th Avenue? Not that we know of. Did he tell a lot of lies that resulted in people dead or homeless, chronically ill and destitute, suicidal, etc? Yes, but that’s just what a jerk of the first water does, I guess, and he had a lot of help. Did he cheat in business and on his taxes? Well, no more than any of his cohorts, and they have big accounting firms to take the fall. He’s one of the gang, and as such can’t be judged by the standards that get the rest of us thrown in jail.

        1. Pat

          Funnily enough or not funny at all the first part of your post applies to every President of my lifetime. The second part may as well but probably not quite as creatively.*

          *I am certain that there are hidden monies that do not appear as income for them all, be It just subsidized travel up to wads of cash for expenses.

          1. AE90

            I guess I feel that way too, which is what gave him the feeling of what is great about being President. Imagine what a betrayal of precedent prosecuting him would be! And that open can of worms! Yikes

          2. Felix_47

            Many voted for Trump because he sold himself as a billionaire who did not need the money. Biden after a brief term as a public defender, made a career out of serving the nation selflessly. Without any other jobs on the side or any time not serving the nation he managed to build a huge fortune for himself and his family. In his recent town hall he expressed pride at his economic skill in getting 90% of corporate America to locate in Delaware. So we can say that the many common voters sensed that they wanted some sort of candidate that could not be purchased by special interests.

    3. Gil Schaeffer

      I pick the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the point of no return because that is when the US chose to construct an authoritarian empire against the exaggerated threat of a world wide communist conspiracy. Sometime in the mid-1950’s, Harry Howe Ransom wrote a book titled, Can American Democracy Survive the Cold War? Following Beveridge’s Law, we know the answer. I would, however, amend Ransom’s question by pointing out that the US political system under our Constitution is not now and never has been a democracy. Let’s stop pretending that the US is now for the umpteenth time losing its innocence.

    4. Lee

      Speaking of RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA!, a more current Democrat hair-on-fire fundraising opportunity is this from Daily Kos: The Daily Kos Elections guide to how redistricting will unfold in all 50 states

      ​”The new redistricting cycle is set to begin in earnest on Aug. 12 with the release of key census data, and as they did a decade ago, Republicans are set to dominate the playing field to the detriment of both Democrats and democracy. Below we’ll catalog how the redistricting process will work in all 50 states and which party—if any—is positioned to control how the next set of maps look, both at the congressional and legislative levels.”

      A bit late to this game, methinks. I’m experiencing a frisson of schadenfreude.

    5. Hepativore

      There is also the fact that the Atlantic article forgets to mention what the W. Bush administration did to the country. Yet, the years from 2000-2008 appeared to have disappeared down the memory hole, especially now that W. Bush has been rehabilitated as some great symbol of freedom and humanitarian goodwill on the part of the Democrats and major cable news networks. While I know that the seeds of neoliberalism were largely sown during the Carter and Reagan presidencies, I would put the “Rubicon moment” at the start of the W. Bush presidency since that is when the US foreign policy of endless wars with no clear goal seemed to be officially cemented into place, as well as the routine blatant disregard for several Constitutional amendments.

      Obama and Trump were amateurs compared to what the W. Bush administration pulled, yet Trump is held up to be some sort of dystopian harbinger. Most of what the previous two administrations did in terms of further degrading our country was a result of them following doctrines that had already been laid down by Dubya and the rest of the neocons in his cabinet.

    1. The Historian

      I think it is obvious that the US has passed a point of no return. Power is too concentrated among the 1% and they are running the country to their benefit only. I don’t think they even recognize the anger that is growing in this country and that will eventually take the Republic down. All we need is a smarter Trump to bring this Republic to an end.

    2. Dftbs

      I think it a childish analysis to diagnose “collapse” with the decay of our democratic facade in its interactions with the bad Orangeman. It’s similarly childish to use the Roman republic as the comparison, and posit Trump as an American Caesar, not even MacArthur deserved that title.

      I do agree with the sentiment that collapse has already happened, and that we are not aware. I’ll take a small personal detour here to illustrate a comparison. I’m a late millennial, in the cultural conception a category associated with youth. In some regards my appearance and physique may indicate strength and vigor. But I’m also nearly two decades removed from my bar room brawling days. And these glamour muscles require more effort at the gym, and lord I hope I never have to swing my fists or take a punch again. The facade is still in place, but the abilities are gone. That is collapse.

      Similarly the ability of the US to do anything a functional nation state should do left long ago. We were just put to the pandemic test over the past year and failed, and continue to do so, spectacularly. Of course public health isn’t something we value. So the real test and realization may come when we put our glamour muscles to the test; we’ll see we can’t even do that one thing we love (war) any good, anymore. Although considering we just lost another one, it’ll take a bigger punch to the nose for us to come to that realization.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        We passed the Point of No Return when Obama, in January, 2009, stood between the banksters and the populace with the pitchforks and didn’t launch or support any serious investigation, let alone prosecution, of the systemic perjury, fraud and forgery that led to the Great Financial Crisis.

        1. Nikkikat

          I agree PFC Chuck, Obama did more damage than a ignorant moron like Trump could ever do. He bailed them out, gave them a free pass to infinite bailouts. Made bushes tax cuts permanent, did an end run around universal healthcare and fixed so that no rich guy will ever go to jail, just a little fine and off they go.
          I remain incredibly angry and am glad I don’t have too many more years left on our path to destruction.

          1. Oh

            Obama has been consistent – he’s stabbed everyone that helped him in the back, including the people who elected him. He never cared about anyone else but himself. I wish for him a long life of suffering.

            1. The last D

              Like to live long enough to see that Obama gets just what he deserves – an analyst’s spot on CNN. Or maybe, headlining an infomercial on late-night tv, hawking the sharpest knife you’ll ever need to stab your best friend in the back. And guess what? No money back on any order! Never!

          2. Mildred Montana


            A President and a party do not deceive millions of voters as Obama and his did in 2008 and not expect to pay a price. Voters tend to get angry when they are lied to. The 2010 mid-term losses and Hillary’s defeat in 2016 were their revenge.

            Sure, Biden won in 2020 but it was far from a decisive victory and as much as the mainstream media would like to think, Trump–Obama’s enduring legacy–isn’t defeated, hasn’t gone away and probably won’t. He ???? 45% of the electorate and that can only increase.

            All it would take to tip the balance in 2024 (I expect the feckless Dems to serve up the same old dish) is for Trump to hone his speaking skills or the Republicans to find in their ranks a Trumpite orator the likes of–dare I say?–Obama.

            Then, demagoguery triumphant, and the age-old cycle begins to repeat itself:
            democracy –>anarchy–>dictatorship.

            1. neo-realist

              I not all that sure that Trump can increase his share of the electorate given his bigoted attitudes toward POC, his authoritarianism, and irresponsible administrative abilities in his one term , but due to the voter suppression that the GOP is undertaking in 40 states, it could potentially suppress enough anti-GOP votes and nip away at the margins in a close race in 2024 to win a presidential election.

                1. neo-realist

                  Possibly due to better marketing and outreach, certainly not better policies for the POC that were paying serious attention. But won’t stop GOP from preventing POC from repressing their voting in future elections if they can. If they’ve got good policies for them, remove the shackles from their ability to vote.

                  Biden got enough POC share in the swing states and GA? to put him over the top.

            2. Nikkikat

              Mildred Montana, you are right on target. My guess is that the truly awful and feckless Dems will stick with Kamala and lead exactly where you think it goes…..D+A = dictator.

            3. Oh

              If Trump had not effed up the Covid response, Biden would not have won. Each time a Demorat wins, it’s because the Repigs created a crisis.

              1. praxis

                Trump had been serious about the crisis he would have won (even if he hypothetically F’ed it up more). Depressing stuff.

        2. tegnost

          yes, and I think obama is typically considered to be “smarter than trump”…
          The pitchfork comment, along “that was me, people”, among others, was the real crossing of the rublcon, when it became officially ok to ignore 90+% of the population in favor of the banksters.

          1. Felix

            A Tale Of Two Polities:

            Imagine Obama’s A list party, then this:

            “Slowly over the course of the summer, the distant buyers made their way to Peoria to check on their homes. Malkebu Moore, a long-haul trucker from Philadelphia, pushed open the unlocked door to his house on West Millman Street and stepped over piles of rotting food, used condoms and feces smeared across the floor and walls. Minutes later, he was back on the sidewalk catching his breath when a prostitute propositioned him.

            “How are you?” Moore asked.

            “Drunk,” she said. “What are you selling?”

            “I’m not selling,” Moore replied. “I’m buying. I bought that house. I’m going to fix it up.” But, by that point, Moore knew the structure wasn’t worth rehabilitating. A few days later, city officials found a dead body inside.”


          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Axelrod was disinvited?!?! There is a Ferengi rule of Acquisition that goes like this, employees are the rungs on the ladder of success, step on them.

            I sort of think it’s a life style brand launch, but wow, Axelrod not being invited is crazy. I guess Obama wants to create the idea he did it alone and wants those people to be forgotten.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        They have quite the febrile imaginations there at the Atlantic. Suggesting that Trump might emulate Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon to avoid prosecution begs the question – Trump and what army?

        We lost our Republic long before the Bad Orange Man showed up.

        1. LP5

          The Atlantic is one of many publications that are guilty each of its own version of projection. They accuse someone of what they, or their protected sources, concubines, parties, funders, extorters or other malefactors are guilty. They omit, commit and ratchet up the indignation a bridge an issue too far.

          Pulitzer, Hearst and others might even be embarrassed at the state of what used to be called journalism. That is some select company right there.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps we should paraphrase William Gibson’s saying.

        The collapse is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.

    3. Nce

      Gore Vidal claimed that the Rubicon was crossed in 1950 with the birth of the national security state. Eisenhower warned us, Truman called for the elimination of the CIA two weeks after JFKs assassination in a NYT editorial, and let’s not forget everything we learned from the Church hearings, etc. When are we going to face the fact that elections have meant virtually nothing for over half a century? The national security state got away with murdering a president, they know they can do anything.

      1. Nikkikat

        Gore Vidal was one smart cookie, often wonder what he would say today. NCE your comment was a very good run down. The Spooks do as they please.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Do the spooks do what they please? Or do they do what their superiors tell them ( in secret, with no paper trail or email)?

          Did the Kennedy-X-King-Kennedy assassins do it all on their own? For fun? Or were they carrying out missions they had been tasked with by undisclosed superiors in government?

  3. cocomaan

    Vaccine Refusers Risk Compassion Fatigue The Atlantic. “Bear! Bear!”

    Pretty sure that giving people substandard care because of their medical choices could result in serious lawsuits or losing your medical license.

    Article, when talking about vaccine, contains the phrase “Science had brought us a solution,” which is just a weird way to phrase things.

    Science isn’t an actor that does things, it’s a method.

    1. Temporarily Sane

      Science isn’t an actor that does things, it’s a method.

      This needs to be repeated again and again.

      Science is a method of inquiry, not an actor or a belief system. The “believe in science” crowd and the tech bros treat it as a secular religion and use it to shut down their opponents and shore up their dystopian technocratic vision.

      1. AE90

        Mayo clinic finds that Pfizer is 42% effective against Delta, and Moderna is 76% effective. Fauci:
        “I don’t doubt what they’re seeing, but there are a lot of confounding variables in there.”

        Confounding variables??? Anyway, keep usin’ em both!! Booster the hell outta people!! also:

        The Chief Medical Advisor to the President once again stressed that he hopes full authorization occurs soon, which will help bolster vaccination efforts before a vaccine-resistant variant could form in the near future if the virus continued to spread.

        If I still had any doubts about their intentions to ram these vaccines at us even if full authorization shows they have problems, which apparently will be explained away with more confounding variables if not shown effective, they have evaporated. Like people look at results, and Fauci says, but, they’re FULLY AUTHORIZED now!

        I am feeling incoherent. Lies make me dizzy.

        1. Objective Ace

          “Bolstering vaccination efforts before vaccine resistant variants arise” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. That’s literally how (and not just how.. but the only possible way) to create vaccine resistent variants. I suspect he just meant to say “varriants”. But who knows, maybe at this point he’s laughing with his buddies about what he can get away with. Like the Trump shooting someone on 5th Ave quote

    2. BeliTsari

      Science, is also not didactic sophistry, victim blaming or sneering pontification on smug websites that bought us Iraq, “BernieBros,” RussiaRussiaRUSSIA, foreign oilgarchs choosing our candidates, preventing Universal Healthcare, enforcing private equity parting-out of medical systems, run-away drug prices, sacrificing any Latinx, Black & rural white labor THEIR hand-picked kleptocrats designated as “essential,” to feed to a virus, knowing they’d infect loved-ones, coworkers and commuters; as sheltering yuppies watched disruptive NASDAQ portfolios jump 80%, ~34K serendipitously vacant rent-stabilized apartments flipped, indenture any chronically PASC damaged survivors into virtual gig serfdom (then pull the exact same schtick, two times since) since fundamentally, nothing has changed. Media is of, by, about and exclusively from the perspective of our boss, landlords and a Creative Class™ who writes it’s own laws, contracts, leases, lethal zoning ordinances, indemnifying releases… and they need victims to blame, when Catastrophe Capitalism forks us to the sharks?

    3. anEnt

      I’ve definitely heard one of my docs complaining about the unvaccinated showing up in ERs. It seems more than likely that some docs will not try very hard to save the lives of people they’ve written off as anti-social for not getting vaccinated. The same way many docs have written off fat people.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And just as a reminder, here is the Hippocratic oath as taught in many US medical schools. I don’t see any bit about abandoning patients because they are too fat or are unvaccinated or anything like that-

        ‘I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

        I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

        I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

        I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

        I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

        I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

        I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

        I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

        I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

        If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.’

  4. noonespecial

    ProPublica Link on Tax Cut Law 2017

    Those who align themselves with trickle down thinking sure do handy working PR-wise. So what happened to all that growth in in jobs and rising boats?

    From the link:

    In exchange for [Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson’s] vote [Johnson’s demand was simple], the bill must sweeten the tax break for a class of companies that are known as pass-throughs, since profits pass through to their owners. Johnson praised such companies as “engines of innovation.”…

    Dick and Liz Uihlein of packaging giant Uline, along with roofing magnate Diane Hendricks, together had contributed around $20 million to groups backing Johnson’s 2016 reelection campaign. The expanded tax break Johnson muscled through netted them $215 million in deductions in 2018 alone, drastically reducing the income they owed taxes on.

    [graphic in article]Tax Break Benefits in 2018- Top 1% income earners USA$24B; top 10% $12.3B; the rest $6B

  5. zagonostra

    >Taliban inside General Dostum’s house.

    Wow what an historic video. It right away brought to bear the images of Obama, HRC, and staff watching the live video feeds of Osama Bin Laden getting wacked. These people seem more civilized in a sense. They are there in the flesh, they are able to hold the ground instead of just bombing it.

    Such a wasted 20 years of life, treasury, and prestige.

    I hope they are able to rebuild their country and we can start doing the same.

    [that spermaceti whale always brings to mind Melville and Captain Ahab’s self-destroying quest ]

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Great video, really priceless. We might have seen something similar back in 1917-18 when semi-educated Soviet revolutionary soldiers occupied the dwellings of fabulously wealthy tsarist elites. And yet….. seeing these images took me back to many more recent Russian interiors I’ve been inside (more in flyover country than in Moscow). The garish decorations (mirrors and gold plate and bright lights, and I’m sure there was a Yanukovich-style gold toilet in the loo) seem crass and tasteless to us, but in that world they demonstrate power. Wealth. Connections. Dostum wasn’t just flaunting his money; he was showing his peers and near-peers that he was someone to be respected and feared. Of course all that’s out the window when TBTB flees abroad…..

    2. jax

      Well at least they’re not tearing up the place out of a fit of pique. I can imagine each of them removing one of those god-awful nuveau-riche chairs to parts unknown. Who’s going to stop them? Since Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani reportedly fled Afghanistan after Taliban fighters entered Kabul, and is believed to be in Tajikistan.

      1. JTMcPhee

        When will we mopes find out how many millions in CorruptBucks ™ Ghani took out with him or had squirreled away in Panama or the Channel Islands? And when will the CIA set up that inevitable government in exile as they seek to repeat their “success” of bringing Dostum and the vicious and corrupt Northern Alliance to power, to excise the Evil Taliban (c)?

    3. Maritimer

      The same US Government which brought on the current Afghan Disaster and numerous other Disasters is the same Government that now tells me to follow its cherry-picked, censored Science.

      No Thanks.

      “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

      Yes, insanity.

  6. John Beech

    Spend an arm and a leg. foster international cooperation, and then de-orbit it. For what purpose? Why not continue to maintain it, expand it, keep it going? Russia just sent the walking arm. Instead of jamming the Russians up, why not turn on the charm? I don’t get it, do we freaking need more conflict?

    1. Louis Fyne

      the West has a “white man’s burden” even with global dogs. (versus helping the dogs in our own literal back yards)

      just being real.

      1. Geo

        A friend was recently talking about joining a charity that goes down to Mexico to rescue street dogs. I didn’t want to discourage anyone from doing good, and it’s true that there are horribly mistreated and suffering dogs to be rescued there, but I wanted to ask: “Have you walked around our own side streets or been to a shelter here?”

        Such a prime example of how we “otherize” problems as always outside our community and never within. “Those people” don’t know how to care for themselves but we do!

        How can anyone navigate through their day with such a heavy blindfold over their eyes?

        1. Michael Ismoe

          It’s really, really hard for me to get worked up about dogs when

          Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 50 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020, including a potential 17 million children. According to the USDA’s latest Household Food Insecurity in the United States report, more than 35 million people in the United States struggled with hunger in 2019.

  7. cocomaan

    With Afghanistan fully concluded, I am taking bets on the next flashpoint for the US military to use as an excuse for playing with their toys:

    1:10 odds – South China Sea (too risky)

    1:2 – Ethiopia/Tigray/Eritrea – Somalia 2.0! When at first you don’t succeed

    1:3 – go back to Afghanistan, do it for the women!

    1:5 – Iraq surge number 6? 7? I’ve lost count

    1. fresno dan

      August 15, 2021 at 8:14 am
      I think its time for a rotation – maybe time for central/south America? Something fresh, new and exciting to bomb??? You remember Hillary’s commercial – you never know who will call at 3am…

      1. The Historian

        I’ve wondered why we left embassies and other people in Afghanistan. Perhaps so that we can go back in to rescue them?

        1. Soredemos

          The US Embassy in Kabul apparently has 1,400 staff. That isn’t an embassy; that’s a CIA field office for organizing the poppy trade and overseeing death squads, that occasionally talks to the Afghan government as a side gig.

        1. Louis Fyne

          IMO The Taliban would have abided by the Doha Feb. 2020 agreement if Biden upheld its side of the deal by completing the US drawdown by May 1.

          After the US reneged its commitment, the Taliban reasonably said, “F it, we’ll seize the lot.”

    2. Wukchumni

      We have to go back to our recent roots, and about the only wars we’ve ‘won’ since WW2 were in Grenada & Panama. It’s obvious the Caribbean is our sweet spot and as luck would have it, Anguilla is not far from Afghanistan alphabetically, and should be a pushover. The idea that it’s a British overseas territory only adds to the allure, lets make Boris squirm to find his Falklands moment, ala Maggie.

        1. John k

          Yeah, but still trying.
          I bet $100 we’d visit Venezuela before feb 2022… Monroe doctrine, oil… er, markets… evils of socialism… plus gotta use military for something.

    3. Louis Fyne


      DC and Hollywood (with its endless sequels and reboots) are out of new ideas.

      the West needs to fix its own house before finding a new village to burn down

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not ideas, just easy targets fit for TV. Let’s pretend the Chinese would be fine with us mucking around in Malaysia. It’s a huge country with a solid military and plenty of people who might fight back. If you thought we didn’t have enough troops for Iraq, we would need more to maintain equivalent levels. The jungle and mountains complicate everything. We would need a build up. Minimum of six months before major action.

        All of this has to be done within the context of millennials and now the Zoomers’ experiences.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            Largely forgotten, as a ripping yarn it was not – the Malyasian Emergency 1948 – 1960 was for the Brits a kind of mini me Vietnam complete with torture, a massacre, beheadings & mutilations, deportations of populations & internment camps – perhaps it was an end of that Empire thing.

            David Bowie before he became Ziggy was in the film they made about it, though very briefly.


      2. Terry Flynn

        On the one hand Grenada precipitated a lovers’ tiff between Thatcher and Reagan.

        On the other hand it is clear Biden and Congress are in no mood to indulge bumbling Boris as he plays fast and loose with the Northern Irish Peace Agreement so they might decide invading a Commonwealth country again would be win-win! Change the anthem to :

        God save the ruling pair
        Long live all women’s hair
        Preserve Ice-Cream!
        Send them victorious
        Months to lord over us
        Suffering will be short, becuz
        We will soon be rare.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      The US likes low hanging fruit. We are a country of thugs. Afghanistan in 2001 had a lot going for it: TV caliber villains, real American anger, international goodwill not just profit schemes, a solid base of support, a local populace that wasn’t wild about the Taliban, and a sparse population giving room to move. Iraq was similar. A decayed country. Surrounded by US bases. A major difference was the expectation the US would make Iraq the next Japan or Germany. The result was no shooting back.

      When Obama entered Libya, he announced the US was the same country people saw in Iraq. The Syrians fought back. No one in Venezuela welcomed President Buttigieg. What happened to Transportation Secretary Guaido?

      Africa isn’t sexy. It brings up America’s history and lacks long term villains. South America is too big, and lacks cartoon villains. We can only get people in secret. Countries need less than 40 million people to be a target. The Russian thumping Georgia was a lesson. We barely hear about the region. White countries are too white to scare Americans. Cuba will fight back. The loudness is just the remaining Bautistsas are in their death throes. It’s like the World War II book and memoribilia ndustry in the 90’s. They will be gone soon.

      Haiti is the answer with its recent earthquake. It may not generate a tv threat, but its a French colony, not our fault, and would be relatively easy for the US to seize control. Haiti lacks forces to hit our ships. It is possible there are enough people at the Pentagon who know how weak the US is from its imperial stand point and will work at rebuilding and accepting the hyperpower age is over.

      Though the US could beat and conquer larger states such as Cuba, the reaction to Kabul falling would be nothing compared to a sinking Navy ship and dead sailors washing up because we couldn’t rescue them.

    5. Mikel

      I’d put the USA itself on that flashpoints list of considerations.
      Chickens coming home to roost and so on…

    6. Rob

      January 6 – already in place.

      Those not 100% on board with the solution/s will be condemned as part of the problem. There will be an ever metastasising mass of domestic threats, spurred on by breathless media reporting of FBI/deep state induced “plots”. Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi and anyone else espousing a counter narrative will be disappeared as Government and big business work hand in hand to place “The Common Good Before the Good of the Individual” (1934 NAZI Labour Code).

      The USA will look very different when it is all played out, whichever side “wins”. The only true winners will be those benefiting from a reduced US and western liberal-democratic influence on the world. Revolutions devour their own as Robespierre, Trotsky and countless other true believers sent to the gulag or an early grave demonstrate. That anyone could wish this on their world beggars belief and demonstrates the damage done by our educational system: Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution is the depraved ranting of a privileged dead white birth-male designed to maintain the existing power structure.

      Fortunately the future is unpredictable.

    7. Dftbs

      Next flashpoint for US military to use their toys is more likely to be state side, than Caracas or Cuba.

      I do agree that both are beleaguered states, without access to the finer things in life as defined by North Americans. But both have capable militaries. In the case of Cuba, one with a history of intercontinental military victories.

      The US military needs to bully a population that is complacent, both physically and intellectually. The heirs of Castro and Chavez would run circles around them. On the other hand our own population is ripe for imperial extraction.

  8. bwilli123

    Re New South Wales ‘Bondi’ breakout.
    Not sure why we don’t call it the ‘FedEx’ breakout, as the original leakage was from 2 FedEx pilots who passed it to an un-vaccinated chauffeur upon arrival at Sydney airport from Hawaii.
    Did FedEx not have rapid antigen testing? Or perhaps they just didn’t care.
    Australia’s frontline quarantine management was set up to fail because the Federal Government had outsourced contamination management to the airlines; a lowest common denominator approach if there ever was one.

    1. Milton

      The fact the limo driver was unvaccinated has no bearing in the spread as we now know both vaccinated and the unwashed are equally capable of transmitting Covid.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Despite the breathless MSM coverage, it is worth noting that the vaccinated do not have equal susceptibility to getting infected. Their titers drop more rapidly as well, so mostly they are less contagious.

        Relative, not absolute statements reflect the current state of the data. Encourage listening to the TWIV podcast recommended by other readers here.

        1. marku52

          Until you get to the Israel data, which appears to show that 6 months out, there isn’t any difference. The antibodies have a definite half life, and it isn’t very long. After they are sufficiently reduced, the vaxxed and unvaxxed are equally susceptible.

          Vaxes do appear to reduce serious disease, at least so far.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            The TWIV discussion suggests that a more granular examination of the data reveals that initially they are the same but the titers reduce rapidly in the vaccinated who get infected, so that their period of being equal is very short. I am not a scientist however ;-) and the one I know best just got himself a third Pfizer jab–according to TWIV there is as yet no data to support this but the CDC for once aren’t waiting.

            1. Yves Smith

              The Israel data showing that infections in the vaxxed and unvaxxed were proportional as to their level in the population was as of early July. It was also stratified by age and the same finding held up in each age cohort.

              Any “more granular analysis” is Pfizer PR. They have been desperately trying to undermine the Israel and Mayo findings.

          2. Basil Pesto

            Given our rollout, it’s likely that limo driver would have been vaccinated within 6 months of driving the pilots.

    2. Lee

      Stanford University to require weekly COVID testing, regardless of vaccination status

      “Stanford University will require students to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, regardless of their vaccination status, becoming one of the first campuses in the country with such a mandate.

      The announcement comes just weeks after at least seven vaccinated students on campus this summer became sick and tested positive for so-called breakthrough cases.”

      I’m unable to find just how ill they became. There’s an article that may or may not contain that information but it’s behind a San Jose Mercury paywall. One would think there would be a free, tax payer funded source for such information. Silly me for entertaining such thoughts.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Adding, just checked daily cases per Johns Hopkins: two days ago on Friday the 13th we hit 290k cases in a single day, second highest of the entire pandemic.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks for chasing down the right link. I am beginning to think the WEF would do more for their causes if they shut down their websites and quit issuing white papers and touting boneheaded initiatives. The WEF tarnishes the already black reputations of Big Money.

      The initiative sketched by this link, was launched by the EDISON Alliance, lead by Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon and Chairman of the EDISON Alliance. The EDISON Alliance is concerned that: “1.7 billion people globally are still without access to a bank or mobile money account.”
      The EDISON Alliance is concerned that: “This requires governments to encourage supply and uptake of services, maintain a level playing field, and promote competition and market entry.”
      EDISON Alliance members are leading the drive to build the “…inclusive digital marketplaces of the future…”
      I will try to remember the noble goals and efforts of the EDISON Alliance when I pay my next Verizon phone bill.

  9. fresno dan
    FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The iconic giant abacus was taken down and hauled away from the Citibank at Ashlan and Blackstone avenue — where it has sat since 1957. Many considered the site a historical landmark of Fresno, but Fresno City’s former historic preservation officer says the process of getting it on the historical registry never happened.
    If you have Google maps, you can see a street view of the abacus at Blackstone and Ashland, Fresno on the Southwest corner. I had no idea it had been there since 1957, and I don’t think it had always been Citibank, but it had always been a bank or savings & loan I believe.

    1. Milton

      Probably an old Crocker bank or Home Federal. Sad to see iconic structures being wiped from the community.

    2. The Rev Kev

      It’s like that they don’t want you to have nice things. Next thing you know they will fill in the Forestiere Underground Gardens and say that there is no record for a building permit for it as justification. Or knock down the Tower Theater and build a bank there.

      1. fresno dan

        The Rev Kev
        August 15, 2021 at 9:06 am
        I don’t know what is going on with the Tower theatre now. There was a big kerfluffle because a religious group bought the Tower, and the Tower is in the heart of the entertainment district of Fresno and if not the center of the Fresno LGBTQ community, at the very least a heavy amount of LGBTQ support. So at the very least, it seems odd to place a church in a raunchy nightclub district.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There is a history of that. When the Salvation Army got its start in the 19th century, they would not take their bands into the exclusive areas but into the roughest parts of town where they often got into fist fights with some of the locals. I think that for inspiration, they took to heart how the late JC would take meals with tax-collectors & hookers as he said that they were the ones in need of spiritual solace – and maybe recruitment. Probably the same with this church.

          But I hope that they preserve that theater’s exterior.

    3. Wukchumni

      Getting rid of a giant abacus and replacing it with a similar sized slide rule would be so Fresno, in that the meaning of the latter would be misconstrued, and thought to reflect the worsening condition of the state’s 5th most populous city, and most alcoholic city in the country.

      {edit} am I being too negative?

      Let me say something nice about Fresno’s airport in that it’s damned convenient and remains the fastest way to flee the place.

    4. jo6pac

      Thanks but that’s really sad. I use to go to Fresno once a month as part of my job and drove by this a lot. When I was in grade I learned how to use one but it wasn’t allowed it a class room. Cheating it was called then.

  10. griffen

    Wind farm story in Texas. That’s a good, thorough article covering quite a few angles. It even includes Kyle Bass, well known to have an anti-China stance.

    I’ll leave it to a policy maven to unpack what’s happening there, but that’s an incredibly rural part of the state. Del Rio features in the excellent No Country for Old Men.

  11. eric bowman

    Hmmm…well..I have a question/request from the commintariat. I my befuddlement (age but other assists), I didn’t mark in any way, a post that rated some new mask ideas (Save the Mask was in it, I think). I think it was in a post about something related(?). It would help rummaging thru the Archives just a wee, knowing the date of the post. Would anyone in the NC universe remember the article and know the posting date?If you could pass it on it would be greatly (very greatly) appreciated.
    Many thanks,

    1. Verifyfirst

      You may be referring to two items Lambert posted in Water Cooler on 8/12:

      “You may need a better mask for Covid-19 variants and Wildfires” [Patient Knowhow (Verifyfirst)]. ” Below are a short list of off-the-shelf options you can purchase online as well as a number of new mask designs that push the envelope in these dimensions. Please also see notes on testing and valves below.” • Very interesting! The page on how to do research is also interesting.

      “A Tiny Hospital in Texas Might Help Solve the Mask Shortage” [Elemental (Verifyfirst)].

      There is also the Badger Mask which I think Yves said she is using, and the Fix The Mask site, where I bought two of their masks (too dumb to make my own). They do an awesome job of sealing the mask–very obvious difference.

      I am so far staying with my Narwall full face mask–seems to still be unclear (to me) whether there is any risk of catching Covid through the eyes. Plus there is the added bonus of watching people’s heads explode when I wear it……

      1. AE90

        I love the look of the Narwal–thanks! If I have to travel on a plane or train, this is what I am going with. Right now I wear a mask and wrap-around sunglasses or safety goggles if I feel I am going into an aerosol soup.

    2. Louis Fyne

      N95 rspirators are by far the best (if bought in packs of 20, roughly $1/mask for a name brand at my local mega-lo mart hardware store).

      KF 94 [Korea) is second. KN 95 (PRC standard is third given purported variance in production standards). you can find KF94/KN95 masks at local Asian grocery stores in addition for the standard outlets.

      fabric masks are “something is better than nothing.” two-ply, better than one. Dense cotton-ply + dense polyester-ply better than a one fabric mask.

      ask your favorite search engine for the citations to support what i said above


    3. Mantid

      Eric, check into paint respirators. Muck less expensive than buying mask after mask. I predict they will become a fashion statement as well. Our local postwoman wears one on her route. Good for smoke too because fires are on their way. Perhaps they will soon come with flotation device attachments. Seriously, effective, low cost, long lasting, much more adjustable than paper masks with a comfortable but snug seal.

      1. Vandemonian

        Some industrial/paint respirators have an exit valve to make it easier breathing out. Be aware that while they protect you from the aerosols of others, they won’t protect others from your aerosols.

    4. BeliTsari

      Washable, graphite nanofiber KF-94 ~0.3μ were repeatedly mentioned by the clinicians quoted herein, as D.614 hit us in NYC (eye covering on crowded conveyances or around obnoxious, drunked-up or mouthbreathing folks?) We’ve re-washed Air-Queen masks well over 20 times, as promised, before they’d become too loose. Just bought 10, today for a friend who’s husband’s a transplant recipient. Bought this way, they’re under $2 and pass rigorous kraut guidelines, so supplementation with cannibalized HEPA (Winex in our case?) or activated carbon in a pocket filter is still more breathable than N95?

    1. R

      I think sporble is saying what I want to say, that NC recently ran links in Germany *ending* free covid tests to force vaccine adoption. So the link today celebrating testing is out of date, we should be focused on the coercive nature of vaccine passports rather than their claimed facilitation of a near-return to normal living.

  12. BeliTsari

    The Atlantic piece, typifies media cherry-picking and straw-man obfuscatory virtue-signalling away inconvenient truth. I’m not saying this isn’t heartfelt by many clinicians, after 18 months (or BS media trope like the Dr. in Alabama or CNN’s Jodi Doering) If we don’t go along, promote little white lies and simply ignore input from essential workers, intimately involved in this horror but never asked for their experience; we’re obviously RooskiBot anti-vax Luddites?

  13. Tom Stone

    Quite a few “Conservatives” I am acquainted with were just fine with the FBI going after Mooslims and Witches ( Socialists and Commies) any way the couild, including stings.
    However, the Whitmer case got their attention and some RW sites are regularly posting links to Glenn Greenwald and there’s now a popular meme involving the FBI finding the source of all these Terroriest plots.
    It’s a pic of an FBI SWAT team member pointing his Pistol at the J Edgar Hoover building and the Tag is
    “FBI raids source of Terrorist plots”.
    On a plaeo conservative site.
    Not one populated by wing nuts.
    It’s a sea change

    1. fresno dan

      Tom Stone
      August 15, 2021 at 8:45 am
      I pitched a fit about the outrageous abuse of Carter Page by FBI and DoJ, and the supposed FISA court, but it only goes to show that principels, honor, decency, and intellectual honesty are rare, rare commodaties. (man, I wish they would bring back spell ck). The thinking is if the FBI goes after the other tribe, all is good…never that justice should be impartial.

      1. Pat

        Just as it never made sense to me that enabling torture and war crimes should be acceptable for Obama but not Bush and vice versa.

        Mind you we all should realize that if the actions were truly unacceptable the “team” in charge would call a violation and prosecute, otherwise it is all about fandom excitement. IOW, look at the impeachments. In every case, the last three were all for show, with no chance of success and even less chance of ending any abuse of power. (I don’t still resent impeachment of Bush for lying us into a war that is still essent ongoing no matter what it is called being taken off the table . No not me…)

    2. Aumua

      They’re going to use this to say that the Capitol riots were orchestrated by the FBI. That’s where all of this is headed.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “To protect from lab leaks, we need ‘banal’ safety rules, not anti-terrorism measures”

    You need to stick these labs on isolated islands off the trade routes with no local populations, that’s what you need to do. Not in a city of 11 million people or in eastern Europe near large cities. That right there would be a good fail-safe to implement.

    1. Michael McK

      How about we stop all research that could be in any way described as ‘gain of function’? I have never bought the rational that they can respond better to nature by practicing making nature more dangerous. I have always felt it was partly an adjunct to military labs and the rest was elite momentum and budget justification.
      Any supposed benefit from the research has now been totally swamped by just this 1 big failure.

      1. Dan

        Unless your proffered “solution” to a problem you have created is your ultimate goal.

        Visualize an Effects of Covid chart with a skyrocketing line heading to the hard upper right:

        At the bottom-
        “Pharmaceutical Profits”
        Trillion Dollar Treasury Looting
        Social and Media Control”

    2. Michael

      It is very much in keeping with the PMC mind-set that every problem can be solved with better rules and better management.

  15. Petter

    News from Norway – The Health Minister Bent Høie announced that soon one could go out and close dance again and “go on” one night stands but was corrected by a journalist who pointed out that one doesn’t “go on” one night stands, one “has” one night stands. From (Google Translate) Dagbladet 13.8:
    Early in the pandemic, Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie went out and warned against acquiring new sexual partners in the corona times.
    – Sex is important, and I understand it is difficult for those without a steady lover, Høie has previously stated.
    Earlier in August, however, the Minister of Health came with good news: At the end of September, life will largely return to normal.
    – Then you can dance close and go to one-night stands, said Høie.
    During Friday’s press conference, the Minister of Health was caught out when he was pressured about the previous statement by VG’s journalist.
    – There has been so much attention around my advice on one-night stands, so it was one of the examples I drew. Now I have also learned that one does not say “go on”, but rather “have one night stands”, Høie explained, apparently somewhat anxious, and added:
    – It is not always wise with one-night stands, but some must decide for themselves. We must have a society where people have the opportunity to live their lives.
    He further said that he as Minister of Health should not interfere in whether people have one-night stands or not.
    – For me as a politician, before this situation, it had seemed very far to come up with some of the advice I have come up with.

  16. Pate

    As a freedom loving ‘Merican I fully support Governor Abbott’s Freedom Fighting Endeavor (GAFFE) against mask mandates and call on him to stop pussyfooting about and get rid of all mandates including seatbelts, bans on smoking in public places, motor vehicle age and speed mandates, health and sanitation regulations, building codes, well you git the idea. I say git rid of all government (except of course the gubner hisself).

  17. The Rev Kev

    “NSW Bondi outbreak and interstate spread 16th June – 11th August’

    Thank you for that NSW Bondi outbreak and interstate spread chart. It tells the whole story. If they had done a snap lockdown about the 5th July, they could have flattened the curve and then proceeded to mop up the outbreaks that had occurred. Instead, they would wait for an outbreak in a new suburb and lock it down but as it takes a few days for people to present, it was already making moves on the next suburb. This was a policy decision of doing lockdowns as ‘a last resort.’ I have heard that with this outbreak, that about a third of the cases in NSW are children so unlike last year, there is not this rabid, maniac insistence on keeping all the schools open so that the parents will be forced to go into work.

    And if you read further down that twitter stream, you will find that damn fool Prof. Peter Doherty whose institute produced the report that Oz is going to use to get out of the pandemic saying that we have the right to know ‘whether employees in any high exposure venue (pubs, cafes, supermarkets etc) are vaccinated.’ IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. I’m not a goddamn professor and even I know that. Does he not know that both vaccinated and unvaccinated can carry this virus? Or is he suggesting that vaccinated people wear a tag or button so that people can see their (medically confidential) status.

    And Typhoid Gladys was saying that “By yesterday most of the state was locked down anyway, it was just a few regional and rural communities.” But one guy called her out on that lie and produced a map showing all those areas that had to lock down on only three hours warning-

    1. The Rev Kev

      Jesus wept. ‘New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given the clearest single yet the state has given up on any goal of getting Covid-19 case numbers back down to zero’-

      “We have to learn to live with it. But the best chance we have to live with it freely and safely is to get the case numbers down as low as possible.”

      All those businesses whining that everything has to stay open lest they lose any profits may finally get their wish. Vaccines will save us all. We’ll see how that works out.

    2. eg

      I have no doubt that the idiocy you are currently enduring in Oz will be visited upon us in Canada soon enough. The ridiculous narrative that the vaccinated neither contract nor transmit the virus has gripped large segments of the populace, as demonstrated by the widespread clamour for “vaccine passports” and it’s enabling the “no more lockdowns” crowd in their folly.

      The fundamental lack of understanding of basic biology is exhausting and infuriating.

      1. The Rev Kev

        August 16, 2021 at 10:15 am’

        You know what it feels like? It feels like we are in a Zombie film. And you know the scene. There are a band of survivors with Zombies on the outside trying to get in but cannot do so. But then there is always one survivor who leaves a door open or tries to get out which lets the Zombies in. Or they see a close relative or lover and open the door to be reunited with them. Next thing you know, the remaining survivors are fighting for their lived because of that one idiot.

  18. Ep3

    I’m sorry Yves, but these folks have millions of options when leaving college. Wall Street only hires a select few from the best colleges. They don’t choose to go work for nasa, for real economy companies, they work for Wall Street for the connections then they leave for Facebook.
    Further, worker moral is currently at its lowest point in a long time. I can find a thousand Walmart workers who would gladly trade places (and incomes) with these overworked Wall Street folks. Those same Walmart workers have been screaming for decades about being overworked and depressed in their jobs. NPR has documented those over the years. But lest we forget about those poor folks.

    1. Yves Smith

      1. Please read more carefully. These links are Lambert’s, not mine.

      2. Posting a link does not imply endorsement

      3. I hate to say it, but anyone who funded an Ivy or equivalent education to any non-trivial degree with student loans can’t go to the NSA etc because they need the highest paying job they can land to have any hope of paying off the debt.

      4. The Wall Street analyst jobs are 2 year sweatshops. They don’t lead to a career position, with rare exceptions. They are designed to assure admission to a top MBA program.

    1. grayslady

      Two studies recently available, one from the University of Wisconsin and one from a young mathematician working with North Shore University Health System, show that blacks who have sickle cell anemia or who are even carriers of SCA, are far more likely to die of Covid as well as from other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and flu. I don’t know if this young man was ever tested for SCA, but, given his age, he fits the profile for when problems begin to show up.

      1. urblintz

        so, if he had or carried SCA, the vaccine would be less effective?
        interesting, and personally so…

        there’s a greek version of SCA – Beta Thalassemia or Cooley’s anemia.

        this greek boy attended a mostly african american high school in the 70’s (when SCA gained more attention) and wrote a paper on SCA. I’d had an uncle with Cooley’s.

        I’m pretty sure I remember, specifically, that there is a relationship between malaria and both diseases.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Well that can’t be right. Snopes is one of the official fact-checking organizations used and recommended by the MSM. And I know that they are trustworthy as the Bellingcat site told me so.

  19. Verifyfirst

    I have never followed Afghanistan as an issue, but I am interested to know why we didn’t leave US and NATO troops there simply as a deterrent to the Taliban (yes, probably forever). It seems we used to do that regularly–we have troops in Japan, South Korea, Germany/EU–850 military bases around the world, and troops in X number of countries, for Y number of historical and current reasons. I don’t agree with that whole structure, but it is there, and what we do or don’t do in Afghanistan is not going to change that.

    If the troops we had there were working to keep the Taliban in their areas, thus allowing citizens in the other areas to live what Western liberals might define as vaguely normal lives (within the context of that culture), what’s the downside, especially as compared to what is now going to happen to the citizens in newly Taliban controlled areas?

    It does not seem to recently have been a particularly active “war”, more a heavily armed standoff.

    1. Louis Fyne

      there has been no active war lately (relatively speaking) because the Taliban won the hinterlands.

      and the 2020 Doha peace deal (which Biden broke) was a way for the US to save face

      1. Andrew Watts

        The Taliban was surrounding provincial capitals at the time Biden made the decision. They steamrolled through the country in ten days. It wasn’t because the war was a stalemate.

        A few thousand American/NATO soldiers wouldn’t have made a difference in changing the outcome. Nor would they have effectively served as a deterrent. The only mistake that Biden made was not getting the troops out before the original May deadline.

    2. Andrew Watts

      The circumstances in Afghanistan isn’t comparable to any of the post-World War II occupations. When the US defeated the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate they merely created a void in governance. Neither the Northern Alliance, or the newly created government/state in Kabul, could ever fill it. The warlords held dominion over their local territories and were often times at cross purposes with the government. While the state apparatus was too corrupt and it lacked any national institutions.

      The Afghan armed forces were never viewed as anything other then a foreign entity in the Pashtun-majority areas. The Taliban was successful in expanding beyond their ethnic group by comparison and transformed into a broader Islamist national movement. They couldn’t have possibly been able to displace the Northern Alliance warlords so easily if they were still focused on their sectarian grudges.

      The US could work with the functional remnants of pre-existing state structures and governments at the end of the second World War..They hanged a few war criminals in Japan, but kept the Japanese ruling class and state intact. The changes the US made to Japan’s Constitution were cosmetic at best sans the pacifist article. This was because Ito Hirobumi wrote the Meiji constitution with the future in mind and was heavily influenced by James Madison. They inherited the Japanese colonial administration in South Korea, but that was much less successful. It was entirely possible the Forgotten War could’ve started with the South invading the North under the “anti-communist” dictatorship of Syngman Rhee.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Afghan National Army was mostly Pashtun anyway, so I’d say in the provinces they were not seen as much a foreign entity as Western paid hoodlums of the government warlords using them to run their fiefdoms with impunity.

        For example, some British officers have stated how they were told to look the other way when the “security forces” kidnapped women and children to beat and rape until families could pay ransom. See, these were “the good guys” helping to liberate Afghans from the Taleban’s reign of atrocities.

        For many in the countryside Taleban is the lesser of two evils. For all we know, one in six or five wholeheartedly shares their ultra-conservative worldview.

  20. Expat2uruguay

    Several days ago I was confused as to why naked capitalism featured a five-year-old video about a woman screeching at a bear while it attacked her kayak…

    Vaccine Refusers Risk Compassion Fatigue The Atlantic. “Bear! Bear!”

    As I read the article in the Atlantic I could hear the ridiculous and stupid pleading of that woman in my head and it all made sense. Thanks for this payout of perfect comedic timing!

    1. Yves Smith

      It was hoisted from comments to links when I whinged about how women are conditioned to be ineffective (see any TV crime show, aside from cops and female Ninja bad guys, the women cry and cower in the face of danger, when about 1/3 of the time, they could claw the guy’s eyes out or grab a bludgeon in sight and brain him). A reader kindly provided this video as an example of this behavior.

  21. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Promising results from a multi centre placebo dbl blind RCT in Pakistan on the efficacy of combining honey & Nigella Sativa to combat Covid in a pre-print. The study also included Hydroxychloroquine, lopinaver – ritonavir, convalescent plasma, remdesivir & dexamethasone, with the honey nigella mix by far achieving the best results.

    Results for HNS as compared to the placebo group.

    Alleviate symptoms moderate illness – HNS = 4 days, Placebo = 7 days. Serious illness HNS = 6 days, Placebo = 13 days.
    Viral clearance moderate illness – HNS = 6 days, Placebo = 10 days, Severe illness, HNS = 8.5 days, placebo = 12 days.
    Clinical score – HNS 63.6 % – Placebo = 10.9%.
    Hospital discharge – HNS 50 %, Placebo 2.8 %
    Mortality – HNS 4% – Placebo 18.87%.

    Nigella Sativa cheap & widely available contains Thymoqinone, Nigelledine, Hederin, Zinc, Vit. C & Quercetin. Works as an anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory & immune modulator. It de-modulates the secretion of a number of pro-inflammatory mediators & improves helper-T cell ( T4 ) & suppressor-T cell ( T8 ) ratio with increased natural killer cell activity. It also manifests potential radical scavenging.

    It’s used in Asian & Arab cooking & was used in the above study in it’s seed form at 80mg per kg body weight per day, with the honey at 1gm per kg body weight per day.

    The study concludes that all data combined is suggestive of a robust therapeutic profile on HNS & results can be highly encouraging amidst current 2nd wave of SARS-COV-2 infection. The superior efficacy of HNS is attributed to the combination of it’s several constituents.

    I nicked the above notes from drbeen, but he goes into more detail on the youtube video.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Taliban inside General Dostum’s house.”

    There is another video that has emerged from General Dostum’s house. It shows the in there Taliban all chilling out, having a feed and catching up on mobile calls. Can you imagine? ‘Hey ma. You’ll never guess where I am talking to you from.’

    I heard that Dostum was not paying his soldiers while living in his palace and that this place was basically paid for by bribes he got from the US government. Your tax dollars at work. /sarc

    1. Carolinian

      I saw another article saying that the Taliban have captured and are flying abandoned military helicopters. Apparently some American trained chopper pilots have gone over to the Taliban so they know what they are doing.

    2. begob

      I did a double-take on passing by the TV, as the BBC correspondent in Washington announced over the backdrop of the Whitehouse: “… they have taken the presidential palace …”

  23. Carolinian

    Re Eastern Hemlocks–This is one of my favorite trees and there are still some to be seen in the nearby mountains. As the article says their deep shade creates a park-like understory carpeted with the small needles. Here’s hoping the introduced kills the invasive.

  24. saywhat?

    To many medical providers working today, the rejection of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines feels like a giant “Fuck you” from 29 percent of American adults. from Vaccine Refusers Risk Compassion Fatigue

    To the contrary, why is not a giant, irresponsible FU to insist that every man, woman and child, regardless of relative vaccination-to-Covid risk and previous infection status, take an experimental “vaccine” AND one that doesn’t prevent* infection spread to boot?

    Interesting times and if the smug PMC are humbled in the near future that’s a plus too.

    *And which, accordingly, may be selecting for more dangerous Covid variants?

  25. fresno dan

    Whoo Hoo! Just got my California Gubernatorial Recall Election pamphet (well, I guess it was delivered in the mail yesterday). 34…or was it 36 candidates. I knew I should have written it down. I was gonna put down the funniest lines, but it is such a treasure trove that I can’t choose
    Succintness award – Adam Papagan – Love u
    Think of the children award – Dennis Lucey – a distraught kindergartener crying told me “I love my mommy, I love my daddy, why can’t I love them equally by living half of the time with each?”
    groovy award – Dan Kapelovitz – can you dig it?

    1. Lee

      Initially drawn to Deputy Sheriff, Denver Stoner, for the irony. But then further down the page I came across the aging blond billboard model and entertainer, Angelyne. Her campaign slogan during a previous run for governor was “We’ve had Gray, we’ve had Brown, now it’s time for some blond and pink.”

    2. Michael McK

      I am encouraging everyone to vote for the Green, Dan Kapelovitz in the second part of the ballot. The other Green has no website which says to me she is not serious. Also, his legal background will have prepared him more than her. Some local liberal groups are pushing for only a ‘No’ vote and leaving the replacement question blank, which Newsom recommends, but that would just mean the nutjob from San Diego will easily win with the 18% of the vote he is currently polling at.
      Newsom prevailed upon all notable Democrats to not sign up as a potential replacement so as to rally more ‘No’ votes because there is no alternative but polls show things too close too call.
      Greens usually can get 5% of the vote and I always hear about 20% of voters say they want to vote Green but are afraid of being a spoiler. If, instead of not voting, they voted for the Green we would have a Green governor which would be a great rebuke to those who pushed the recall!
      I am disappointed the People’s Party did not run someone but they still do not even have a contact link on their website for media inquiries, nor have they ever explained why they are creating a new marginalized party instead of reinvigorating or revolutionizing the Greens (having been to some Green meetings I kind of understand but it needs to be discussed).
      PS I think ‘consensus process’ was inflicted upon left groups by FBI moles in order to neutralize them. I am for taking a vote and if 60% support the question then it is a go. If a group moves too far from you, start a new one for that issue but keep working with the first group understanding that you may achieve more goals mostly working with people who are only 75% on your page.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Sea Level Projection Tool”

    When looking at those projections, remember that there is another factor to consider and that is how much it spreads inland as well. So for every meter in height, I understand that it will spread on average about seven meters inland which is about twenty-three feet or so. At that rate, it would not need that big a height difference to have the beaches disappear.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe rising seas can reach much further than seven meters if they rise enough to sour the local ground water.

      1. Jomo

        In Florida, sea level rise is much worse than any coastal projections. Look at the Everglades, a meter rise and this will all be water up to the central part of the state. Tampa area, the same situation. Florida Keys gone. Look at the St John’s River meeting the ocean near Jacksonville but tidal all the way to Lake George along with all the feeder creeks. And the higher the water rises, the farther the tidal reach extends. Where I live on the St. John’s near Lake George, a one foot rise will overrun the freshwater swamps, kill all the trees and vegetation and turn inland Florida into a salt water sea. I may live to see this happen. Nothing is going to stop this. It is too late. Not enough money in the world to change this course.

        1. marku52

          “Not enough money in the world to change this course.”

          Oh I disagree. Plenty of money, but it is in the wrong hands.

  27. fresno dan
    Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.
    I have never posted anything so, so, so certain. More certain than death, taxes, and the sun rising in the east…

    1. Lee

      We can thus look forward to the return to our shores of some of our tax dollars as members of the Afghani looter class relocate from the imperial periphery to its center.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Perhaps we also can look forward to (renewed) negotiations with the Taliban for the gas pipeline? The New Yorker conveniently fails to mention that the last time the Taliban took Kabul, the Clinton administration was celebrating. Anyone else remember the Unocal deal that almost happened for the Caspian oil pipeline under Clinton and 43?

        There’s been noise since the first of the year over a deal with Turkmenistan for a natural gas pipeline (NC likely has had links; if so, I missed them). The Biden State Department has denied negotiating with the Taliban … which probably is the best evidence that they are.

        I could have sworn I saw a hint of a smile on Biden’s face when he said, “Not my problem.”

        More links in a few ..

    2. Glen

      I have to admit that the sheer amount of Afghanistan Angst in the MSM is perplexing. The collapse, other than the speed was rather predictable, and of course, horrible.

      Message to the American MSM with Regard to Afghanistan Angst:

      Please just pretend that Afghanistan is the American industrial Midwest, and Kabul is Detroit. You watched over the last twenty years as these people and regions were abandoned, and you didn’t really care. You see the American homeless every day in major cities, and you don’t really care. So, just pretend it’s all happening in America, to Americans. It will make it all so much easier to ignore.

    3. cocomaan

      My favorite picture so far from the Afghanistan evacuation are the Taliban fighters posing in the presidential palace.

      Most of them are holding US M4 service rifles. Only one of them is holding an AK pattern rifle.

      The Taliban is sending a message with the arms that they’re holding, if someone will listen.

      If you liked this comment, search our archives for “What Are The Insurgents Wearing, 1/6 edition”

  28. The Rev Kev

    “New Zealand: The ideal spot to ride out the apocalypse?”

    If I were a billionaire, I would not get my hopes up too high about New Zealand. If things start to fall apart in America, then it will be open season on billionaires in America. And if any federal government had a desire to remain in power, they would gladly throw any that they could lay their hands on to the wolves. It may be the only reason to keep a federal government in power in fact. But there are only several hundred billionaires in America. So how long before a federal government would get those 70,000 special forces to do snatch-and grab missions on billionaires around the world, including in New Zealand? Extraordinary rendition you can believe in.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      While it might be more entertaining to chase the billionaires and pull them out of their hideyholes — I think it would be simpler to locate their hideyholes and make sure those hideyholes are well-enough sealed to prevent the billionaires and those with them from ever leaving. Mark each exit with a heavy cairn built directly above.

      1. begob

        And miss the moment Bill Gates emerges, blinking into the light from behind his smudged Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses with his toupée on sideways? “Environmental crash? Try turning it off and on again!”

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I think Mr. Bill would see a blue-screen if he cycled power. Maybe he knows what to do with the errorcode.

    2. Louis Fyne

      serious question. Is NZ self-sufficient in stuff like wheat? NZ doesn’t strike me as a grain-friendly climate (never mind spare parts, fuel, electronics, batteries, meds, etc)

      billionaires can’t live on mutton and sauvignon blanc alone.

      1. Lee

        FWIW, of all nations, New Zealand has the 5th highest food self-sufficiency ratio (185) on a calorie supply basis. The U.S. ratio is 124. Wikipedia

        But with climate change, who knows what the future holds?

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          Interesting data, but I note that it’s from 2012 and 2015. These things can change surprisingly fast. Russia has made a big push for food self-sufficiency since 2014 (Crimea sanctions etc), so it would be interesting to see an updated list. Back in WW1, the Germans were confident that they could starve out the British with their revolutionary U-boat attacks. But aside from the success of convoying with destroyer escorts, the Brits countered successfully by making their farmers re-purpose their farmland away from feeding livestock towards feeding people directly. At the end of the day, it boils down to arable farmland vs how many mouths to feed (assuming no drastic climate change). I think relatively empty NZ will be OK.

        2. Kouros

          Australia looks like the odd man out there. Water scarcity is a problem and will become an increasing problem, while the bread basket around Perth is experiencing high levels of soil salinization due to irrigations/evapotranspiration which brings to the surface salts…

      2. Jeotsu

        Food we have aplenty. Population 5 million, and we produce enough for 40 million. We’d be short on wheat — lots comes in from Aussie — but Canterbury and Otago is great grain-growing country, and they could shut some of the water-hog, nitrate polluting dairy farms.
        We’re currently having a (construction) timber shortage, due to trade deals that send almost all overseas, and a couple of decades of local mill closures. Local papers starting to discuss autarchy issues, if not with those exact words.
        In a big collapse, we’d run into problems of limited local manufacturing — what do we do without china! Nobody would starve, but without international trade NZ would struggle for many core products (steel, petroleum, etc). Local production couldn’t make up for all of it.
        In a worst case I’m pretty sure we could revert to an easily 20-th century lifestyle. Austere, but well fed. You’d just need to shuffle the population around a bit.

        1. Wukchumni

          NZ ranks 66th in the world in oil production-accounting for 17% of domestic usage-the rest imported, and if the shit hits the fan, how are you going to move all that Ag around, especially since your railways were gutted largely in the past 30 years?

    3. MonkeyBusiness

      Was there ever an open season on rich people in America? Can’t recall one happening even during the depths of the Great Depression.

      Also the ideal spot obviously depends on your race. East Asian elites will ride out the apocalypse in their respective home countries. Heck, that’s probably the case for most people, elite or non elite.

      1. Lee

        I’ve been considering relocation for some time now. But as environmental and social conditions become more fraught and uncertain just about everywhere, I’m feeling more inclined to operate on ground I know, so long as it remains habitable.

        1. MonkeyBusiness

          Yeah, makes sense. If I have the means though, I’ll probably relocate to Malaysia. The people, the weather and the food are all to my liking ;)

      2. griffen

        There was going to be an open season. But I recall someone stepping into the breach, ya know, between all them still rich and the people holding a pitchfork.

        Gotta foam the runway(!) I wish this was sarcasm…

  29. Glenda

    “Parallels between the AIDS crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic have long been noted by public health experts”…

    They will be parallel when people can get AIDS standing next to someone in the grocery, riding a bus or downwind of someone sneezing.

    Articles like this are just more blatant politicization, bandwagon hitching and further confusion that shows what a screwed up mess out healthcare and our politics are.

  30. antidlc

    Re: “The rebellion is spreading”: After local Texas officials defy his ban on mask mandates, Gov. Greg Abbott begins to clamp down

    The article states:

    Other officials didn’t bother with a court battle. Travis County officials went ahead Wednesday afternoon with an order requiring mask-wearing in public schools. Some of the state’s largest school districts — Austin, Houston and Fort Worth — already plan to require students, teachers and staff to don masks.

    There has been an update since this article was written:
    State District Judge John Chupp Grants Restraining Order Against Fort Worth ISD’s Mask Mandate

    State District Judge John Chupp has approved a restraining order against Fort Worth ISD by a group of parents, saying it lacks the authority to require face masks.

    The legal petition would prevent enforcement of a mask mandate when school starts next week.

    I think this whole situation is getting explosive. Not sure what will happen Sept. 1.
    Texans can carry handguns without a license or training starting Sept. 1, after Gov. Greg Abbott signs permitless carry bill into law.

    1. Daryl

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We are told that, in general, the Texas governorship is a “weak” position, but here we have a politician from the party of small government and personal liberty (air quotes of course) ruling that municipalities and school districts cannot mandate basic safety measures without legislation or anything else. To my knowledge these executive orders haven’t really been tested in court, but then the Texas Supreme Court and of course the Supreme Court itself are rather stacked in favor of these sorts of people.

  31. Bazarov

    “The Return of the Taliban” The New Yorker

    This article is asinine. It’s incredible that stuff like this is acceptable fare among our PMC overlords that compose The New Yorker’s readership. The author makes claims like “The Taliban made Afghanistan unworkable”–without nary a mention of the 20 year long occupation by foreign invaders! Perhaps that played a role in the beleaguered nation’s “unworkability”? It tars the Taliban by relating its acts of awful cruelty, without setting it against our 20 year long drone campaign (assassinating “militants” at wedding parties where dozens of civilians were blown to bits as regrettable “collateral damage”), our ceaseless “special operation” terror campaigns, the profuse torture of Afghan prisoners at our CIA black sites, and the everyday indignities of occupation by a particularly stupid and venal civilization.

    Articles like this remind me of an exchange from “The Battle of Algiers,” wherein one of the captured FLN commanders is paraded before western journalists:

    French Journalist: “Don’t you think it is a bit cowardly to use your women’s baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?

    Captured FLN Commander: “And doesn’t it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on unarmed villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.”

    Of course, “The Battle of Algiers” is a great film that does justice to guerrilla wars of national liberation. This article is mere imperial hack work.

    1. Carolinian

      I’ve been meaning to re-watch Battle of Algiers–maybe tonight.

      Perhaps ironically New Yorker critic Pauline Kael was one of the film’s big champions. There’s a lot of water under the bridge for The New Yorker since then. They’ve gone from Hiroshima expose to Iraq war cheerleaders.

    2. Jeotsu

      War is how the rich nations terrorise poor nations.

      Terrorism is how the poor nations make war on rich nations.

    3. Acacia

      As a bizzare footnote, the Pentagon held a special screening of Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, on August 27th, 2003.

      Did they learn anything? Maybe a renewed interest in water boarding, as there’s a scene in the film that shows the French using this technique against the captured FLN insurgents.

  32. juno mas

    RE: Why Sunflowers face East

    Here’s another suggestion: sun flowers face toward the morning sun because the warming sun activates the pollinators (bees, moths, butterflies, etc). It is the pollinators that determines (mostly) whether flowering plants reproduce. If the pollinators aren’t first activated by the suns warmth, they won’t find their way to any sunflowers. (No matter the direction they are facing.)

    Heliotropism is common to many plants; in different ways.

  33. antidlc

    Inside America’s Covid-reporting breakdown

    Crashing computers, three-week delays tracking infections, lab results delivered by snail mail: State officials detail a vast failure to identify hotspots quickly enough to prevent outbreaks.

    Oklahoma’s struggle is America’s. The CDC relies on states to identify and monitor viral outbreaks that, if uncontrolled, can kill thousands of people. But the coronavirus exposed a patchwork system in which state officials struggled to control the spread of Covid-19 because their outdated surveillance systems did not allow them to collect and analyze data in real-time, according to a six-month POLITICO investigation that included interviews with four dozen health officials in 25 states and more than a dozen current and former officials at the CDC and other federal health agencies.

    1. upstater

      That is quite an indictment of the Third World status the US has achieved. Absolutely amazing, not that we didn’t know already.

      And don’t even get me started on the lack of sequencing. Many states don’t bother and that data is equally disjoint. New variants are no doubt out there, but government is whistling by the graveyard in ignorance.

      This deserves to be elevated to tomorrow’s links or Watercooler.

  34. Mikel

    “French protests continue into fifth weekend following health pass enforcement” The Hill

    “French officials are calling on police to provide increased security to vaccination centers, which have been the target of more than a dozen attacks since July…”

    Starting to be like the abortion issue in the USA?

  35. Daryl

    > Why A Secretive Chinese Billionaire Bought 140,000 Acres Of Land In Texas Forbes

    An interesting article. I have to say I find the attitudes expressed in the article…well, not shocking, exactly, but still stupid, as though selling 140,000 acres to a Chinese billionaire is somehow more despicable than selling them to a Texas billionaire. And I have extreme doubt about the malicious angle presented as plausible in the article — if the Chinese want the Texas electrical grid to fail, all they have to do is wait for a couple more years of deregulation and profiteering to do their job.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes wind farms–such a rarity in Texas these days /s

      The article never explains why a previous wind farm found it necessary to invade the water table.

    2. Kelly in Texas

      Well exactly. I live in Fort Worth and our grid failed miserably last winter as you probably heard. Didn’t require any help from the Chinese at all.
      Also, since this isn’t really about saving the area as that smoke screen implied, then I believe it’s about someone else’s pocket book. Since our Republican Senators are involved I’d say it’s the oil/gas corporations. Either they want to frack the area or they just don’t want the energy competition. If it’s the latter they can get all this for no cost to them. Well, other than paying off the Republicans.

  36. Tom Stone

    I sent off a link for the FLCC website to my Sister who is a retired Nurse and Teacher of Nursing.
    She is also a card carrying member of the PMC, extremely tribal and a natural authoritarian.
    Which has rewarded her well, she is a very respectable middle class woman with very strong views of what is morally acceptable in other people.
    “I read all their articles and it’s GARBAGE, until there’s a ;large scale double blind study of Ivermectin’s benefits anyone who takes it is a fool”.
    If anyone else had brought it to her attention she might have had a different reaction, not from me.

    I have a Badditude when it comes to authority and always have, the 58,000 names on that wall is one of many reasons for that.

    I love her anyway but it is sad.

    1. kareninca

      I’m glad she’s retired and won’t be providing my medical care. I’m also glad that she has no power over how I treat my own body. I hope her way of seeing things didn’t harm people she “treated” in the past.

  37. saywhat?

    re “New Zealand: The ideal spot to ride out the apocalypse?”:

    Some folks seem to think they can hide from God’s wrath?

    Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” Revelation 6:15-17

  38. Mikel
    “…A fight erupted on the corner of 1st and Spring streets shortly after 2:30 p.m., as counterprotesters in all black and anti-vaccine demonstrators draped in American flag garb and Trump memorabilia traded punches and threw things at one another. It was not immediately clear how the fight started, though each side quickly blamed the other….”

    And in the article in the links about the French protests mention vaccination clinics being attacked in France.

    Will any lessons be learned from this crisis? And what will they be?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The counterprotesters should have come dressed as corona viruses, in great big round foam-rubber costumes with those little spikes on them.

      Or maybe the Yes Men could have staged a humorous counter-protest, an ironic display of over-the-top support for the pro-disease initiatives of the moral lepers who came out to “protest” vaccination.
      Certainly antifa are not ever going to offer any counter-protest credibility.

  39. urblintz

    When you’ve lost Laurence Tribe:

    “As Barack Obama’s longtime friend and former law school teacher, and as an admirer of much that he & Michelle have accomplished, I find this whole over-the-top, hyper-opulent birthday saga utterly disgusting, pathetically shallow, and frankly nauseating”

    He must not have gotten an invite.

    …and it’s not like there weren’t far more serious examples of Obama’s BS with which Tribe had no problem.

    1. poopinator

      Looks like it’s been deleted. Must have been tagged as misinformation by our Benevolent Techno Overlords

  40. fresno dan
    A man in a wheelchair rolls toward the Capitol Building. It is social justice and health care activist Ady Barkan, one of TIME magazine’s 2020 most influential people, and he is on his way to testify before Congress. “Ady’s been fighting like hell for his life and for all of ours,” says Committee Chair Jim McGovern as he introduces him.

    Barkan has been speaking in public since he was in high school. But as he tells the committee, this time is different. It is the first time he is not using his natural voice. He has ALS, a “deadly debilitating disease with no cure and very little treatment,” and he can now only “speak” through a Stephen Hawking-style mechanical device directed by his eye movements. He is using it to speak on behalf of everyone who is in need of health care, meaning everyone, and he is urging Congress to adopt Medicare for All.

    1. wilroncanada

      This was an early band fronted by Riannon Giddens, who has gone on to a successful career. I think she was originally a classically-trained singer and violin player before picking up the banjo later. She’s co-writer with Bob Dylan of a song she sings on the “Basement Tapes” which included Dylan and Elvis Costello among other performers.
      She was also in one of the “Trans-Atlantic” tapes, working with Celtic performers from Great Britain and Ireland.

  41. drumlin woodchuckles

    Burma? Myanmar? Failed “nation”? Well . . . . a multi-ethnic empire is not a nation anyway. Ethiopia will demonstrate that to the world over the next few years.

    Could Burmyanmar succeed as a Federation of EthnoStates? With no one ethnic group considered to have any special leading role?

    Maybe. But only if the NUGies are somehow able to exterminate the Tatmadaws in a systematic, complete, and detailed way. And will the RussiaGov/ ChinaGov permit the NUGies to achieve that outcome even if it looked like they could do that on their own? I don’t think so. I think the ChinaRussiaGovs will help the Tatmadaws exterminate the NUGies instead.

    So what can the NUGies do as their last act of vengeance on this earth? Perhaps they can burn down, blow up, poison, irradiate or otherwise destroy for decades to come, every single physical asset of any conceivable value to Russia or China for decades to come. That way, they could at least make the coming Tatmadaw/China/Russia victory hurt a little.

  42. urblintz

    “Below is how Mr. Bartlett describes Dr. Malone’s body of work:

    “The abridged version is that when Malone was a graduate student in biology in the late 1980s at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, he injected genetic material—DNA and RNA—into the cells of mice in hopes of creating a new kind of vaccine. He was the first author on a 1989 paper demonstrating how RNA could be delivered into cells using lipids, which are basically tiny globules of fat, and a co-author on a 1990 Science paper showing that if you inject pure RNA or DNA into mouse muscle cells, it can lead to the transcription of new proteins. If the same approach worked for human cells, the latter paper said in its conclusion, this technology “may provide alternative approaches to vaccine development.””

  43. Greg

    Hush-Hush Boom-Boom London Review of Books. Ian Fleming?!

    This pairs very nicely with the substack linked yesterday about the connections between Tom Clancy and the CIA. Seems like the CIA has been the invention of story tellers from the get-go. Narrative management ahoy!

  44. Soredemos

    >Explainer: A 48-year-old union gone in 11 days – how Hong Kong teachers lost a powerful voice Hong Kong Free Press

    The 95,000-member union, which said it “could not see a way forward” amid political and social changes in the city, came little over a week after the Education Bureau severed ties with the group. That decision was announced mere hours after Chinese state media described the union as a “poisonous tumour” that must be “eradicated.”

    These must be the vaunted ‘Chinese characteristics’ I’m always hearing so much about.

    I’m sure this is exactly the sort of thing Marx envisioned. Yes, totally. /s

  45. Big River Bandido

    Wow, Gov. (AL) Kay Ivey’s emergency order is, on every substantive point, corrupt and despicable. Under the guise of safety, this order basically *rescinds all safety regulations* under the guise of a pandemic necessity. Not a one of these rules is in any way helpful.

    To her credit, she did encourage people to get vaccinated. But by publicly marrying herself to the official narrative that vaccinated people are immune, she’s sown the whirlwind. This line will someday destroy every politician who has uttered it, and I think that day is not far off.

  46. The Rev Kev

    The Afghan war is now over. The Taliban are in the Presidential Palace as well as the abandoned US Embassy. After twenty years of fighting, the country went back to control of the people that live there. After Biden reneged on the May departure, the Taliban just said bugger it – we’ll just take it back.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Bush family loyalists are all upset. They are trying to dump it on Biden instead of not taking the deal to hand over Bin Laden in 2001.

    2. K.k

      It seems the taliban now control more territory than they did in the 90s.

      Mission accomplished!?

      Not to fret we went in to take out al Qaeda, only now this evolved group has more territory in Idlib, Syria, and is practically under NATO protection. Mission accomplished!?

  47. ChrisPacific

    I wonder if Slavitt’s list of people who should be thrown off Twitter for lying about the vaccine includes his former boss, Joe Biden (“If you get the vaccine you won’t get sick.”)

  48. Tom Stone

    I drove through downtown Sebastopol a little before noon today and the sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians and outdoor diners.
    Traffic was slow so I was able to get a good look.
    Lines outside all of the restaurants and I did not see anyone wearing a mask outside.
    I drove by the farmer’s market on my way back, vendors were masked and so were about 20% of the people I saw.
    It was busy, perhaps 200 people.
    I was in town to pick up 5 gallons of water at an outdoor vending machine at a local market ( Yes, I was masked), the lot was full and several people who walked out of the store with groceries were not masked.
    Oh, shit.

    1. Expat2Uruguay

      But maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye, seeing how a left government has returned to Argentina and a centre-right government has returned to Uruguay.
      A political equivalent of “disaster capitalism” that moves under the cover I’ve covid-19?

  49. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s a photo of a “help wanted” sign outside a restaurant. Here is a link to the photo.

    It would appear the owner thinks he/she can set wages nice and low and be insulting and patronizing about it. Is the owner right?

    If everyone within the “greater business area” where this restaurant and all the other restaurants are located had a way of knowing which ones pay $15.00/hour or better, and which ones don’t, they would be able to confine their business to the ones that do, if they should care to do that. If the restaurants that insist on under $15.00 for any employee were to find themselves shunned and abandoned into liquidation, then those restaurants would cease to exist in that area and $15.00 would become the new default baseline.

    Are there enough customers in that area who want to make it so . . . to make it so?

  50. VietnamVet

    Kabul fell today. Videos show civilians scrambling to escape on a C-17. It is 1975 Saigon, once again.

    In the 1950s, Malaya was where the British Empire died. It was difficult war against local Chinese Communists. Even after isolating rural Chinese into “strategic hamlets”, Commonwealth troops with support of Malays “Sons of the soil” could only win the war by ending the British colony and giving them statehood. The agreement was that the Malays would be the rulers, the Chinese would make money any way that they could, and the Indians would survive any way available. A decade later the USA tried to do the same in Vietnam and failed spectacularly when the communists tagged Americans as foreign invaders intent on reestablishing a French colony.

    1991 Desert Storm started the forever wars. 2001 Afghanistan invasion, 2003 Iraq invasion, 2014 Syria and Ukraine proxy attacks were all in order to profit from war. Reality and history were ignored.

    The Western Empire has fallen. The Taliban defeated it. Killing people for profit has come home to roost. The coronavirus pandemic, climate change wildfires and floods, and inequality must be addressed. The arrogant incompetent globalists, the One-percenters, need to be jailed for their crimes in order for peace, health and happiness to return to North America.

    The statues of Robert E Lee should be restored. By surrendering at Appomattox he saved the United States from a guerrilla war. Whoever blames the unvaccinated for the current disorder (divide and rule) is trying to start another civil war in order to profiteer even more.

    1. a fax machine

      Admitting that surrender is a viable option means admitting that the status quo cannot hold and should be peacefully retired. The powers that be cannot fathom that for the same reasons Confederates couldn’t until they were totally defeated by force. This is the “revolution” Marxists speak of.

      Anyway, so ends another chapter in America’s military history. My guess is that Iraq holds out until the next election, as it did in 2012 and 2008, and then falls apart. What we’re seeing today is not just a conclusion, but the start of another bloody chapter: the fall of Baghdad starts now. The events in Afghanistan will inevitably reverberate and cause a crisis within Saudi Arabia as well, likely triggering a conflict there. Given how unprepared the House of Saud is, we are set for another Energy Crisis this decade.

      Maybe Biden can make some good of this. If he is honest, we can return to Carter’s Malaise and chart a way out of this. Ending the global oil trade and creating an American energy independence mandate (similar to balanced budget mandates) would kill free trade and rebuild our domestic economy. This would certainly make climate change management practically approachable. Or Biden could go full retard and dump the troops into Western Ukraine and Taiwan in an explicit attempt to rebuild the Cold War.

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